Every two years “Cheese” fair visits Bra (Piedmont) and it’s nothing but an amazing cheese feast accompanied by great wines, beers and music. This year the event, organized by Slow Food, took place during the weekend: September 20th – 23rd. As always fair was dedicated to a wide range of multinational handmade cheeses, produced according to traditional recipes.
I went to Bra, the main town of Roero area, during the first day of the event. Despite yellowing leaves I still could feel the summer – a nice warm temperature and perfectly clean sky. Central streets and squares were closed to through traffic (which caused serious problems with parking places, unfortunately) and transformed into a huge market space under the sky. Stands, mainly with cheeses, but also with naturally bewared beers, books or pasta were located from Piazza XX Settembre, continuing on corso Garibaldi, via Marconi till Piazza Carlo Alberto. And inspite of being Friday early afternoon streets and squares attracted a big mass of visitors – both tourists and townspleople.
Flavor of smoked, maturating, blue, hard, soft cheeses enveloped all Bra. A few mines walk was enough to make a travel around all Apennine Peninsula. Practically each region (except Molise) had at least one ambassador. Piedmont, for example, was representing by Bra excellences (Bra duro stravecchio or Bra tenero), by castelmagno, tuma or robiola cheese. Provola arrived from Sicily, fontina from Aosta Valley and a famous parmigiano reggiano from Emilia-Romagna. Some cheeses acrossed Atlantic Ocean (like excellent cheddar from United States), over 40 different varieties came from UK, some from Irland and France. Among exhibitors there were such countries like Poland, Switzerland, Bulgaria or Norway, for example.
During Cheese fair you could taste, buy and even save the different shapes of milk. The Arc of Taste is a special project dedicated to products that risk to disappear from our life. Very often we don’t realize how many excellences risk to be forgotten: cheeses as well as meats, breads or sweets. They are, for instance, produced according to traditional old recipes that are followed only by older people. It could be also a small family business that step by step is losing with a competition. Slow Food organization encourage everybody to keep eyes open and report such products (on their official webpage you can find a special questionnaire) we risk to lose forever. During fair on Piazza dell’Arca everybody could actually see “saved” cheeses. More about project on: http://www.slowfoodfoundation.com/ark